Everyone knows that Beach Boys, Sublime, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Don Henley, Joe Cocker, Blue Cheer, and "Summertime and the living's easy" (no matter who's singing it) are always included on Best Summer Songs lists...and so they should be! But I went my own route in choosing albums I love as soundtracks to my summers. Feel free to still crank up the Sublime...
1. Bob Marley -- Legend
It's an obvious one, but I had to include it. And I do indeed listen to him all throughout the summer. That's because Bob Marley is summer in human form. Makes me wish I was in Jamaica again! Rest in Peace, Bob.
Okay, so I mostly listened to Jimi by way of posthumous compilation albums... particularly this one cassette I bought as a 14-year-old and played on my Walkman, on the bus to and from camp. I remember listening to "Castles Made of Sand," "Purple Haze," "All Along the Watchtower" (the best version of that song), and "The Wind Cries Mary" oppressed by heat and covered in grass stains, spinning images of the ocean in my head. Then there was his Woodstock performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner"...not only did that song redefine the 1960s, but it completely transfixed me. I was listening to The Fourth of July being shredded, Woodstock being ignited, and my own heart pumping along to rock n' roll that lived and died before my time. And what's more summery than Woodstock, anyway?
3. Led Zeppelin -- Houses of the Holy
Just that cover is enough: a mystical, surrealistic summer landscape. And the closer, "The Ocean" --- a given! I must say, though, that any Led Zeppelin album creates an ideal soundtrack for sunshine-laden days, and songs like "Ramble On" and "Black Dog" and "Dazed and Confused" are all also perfect for lying, or frolicking, in the grass.
4. Beatles -- Sergeant Pepper
All of that hallucinatory glee, those sitars, those quirky lyrics, Lucy flying around in the marmalade sky, a boat in a river, getting high with your friends. Again, other Beatles tunes not on this album --- like "Strawberry Fields," "Across the Universe," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Here Comes the Sun," etc. --- are also ripe for summertime. But Sergeant Pepper takes the cake.
5. Blind Melon -- Blind Melon
It boggles my mind why Blind Melon isn't as legendary as some other bands that emerged around the same time...folksy, bluesy, hippie, grungy. I've always thought of Shannon Hoon as the alternative male parallel to Janis Joplin, with just as many addictions. Any Blind Melon album will suit summertime, but this one's got "No Rain," and if you remember that video with the dancing bee girl in the field, that's all you need to set the scene in your head.
6. Animal Collective -- any
Those wild neo-psychedelic layers of voices and instruments and electronics and tribal beats create an endless stretch of summery bliss. Go for Strawberry Jam, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Water Curses, Sung Tongs, et cetera.
For some reason, this album screams summer. Maybe because I saw them in Austin on a truly hot day. Maybe because I listened to it all last summer. Mostly because it soars just like a summery album should. Also, they're from LA!
8. Modest Mouse -- The Moon in Antarctica
Antarctica...right, you're probably thinking this doesn't sound summery. But I listened to this album every single day and night during my Saint Marks summer of 2004, when I fell in love with it for the first time (I know, I was a little behind date-wise). I dare you to crank up the volume of "Stars are Projectors" on a late summer night (preferably at the ocean!) --- it's absolutely perfect.
9. Arcade Fire -- The Suburbs
Suburbs, lawns, car drives with the windows down --- all motifs sprawled throughout this sprawling gem. It starts with an early morning wake up --- the sun all bright and hot in your face --- and ends on a still warm night filled with pricks of light.
10. Pixies - Surfer Rosa
Again, this album isn't necessarily designed for summer, but it does have Surfer in the title, and it is one of my very favorite albums. Pixies are perfect for every season, but I declare that Surfer Rosa is especially suited for summer.
Also, tunes by these bands are sure to compliment the albums above:
Jane's Addiction, Wavves, Best Coast, Red Hot Chilli Peppers (duh!), Of Montreal, The Flaming Lips, Death From Above 1979, Gogol Bordello, The Black Keys, Talking Heads, The Police, The Polyphonic Spree, Broken Social Scene, Electric Light Orchestra, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dr. Dog, Foals, Yes, Santigold, Friendly Fires, Beach Fossils, Klaxons, MGMT....
Keep 'em coming...what are your favorite albums for summer?